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October 16, 2007

Listen to Levi: Amish Children and Obedience


photo: Randall Persing Amish photography

If you were looking for a single book that explains how the Amish tick, you wouldn't go wrong with Amish Society by the late John A. Hostetler.

Although it's a bit dated, the reason I'd choose this one first, over, say  Donald Kraybill's The Riddle of Amish Culture is that it tends to take a broader view of the Amish, while Kraybill tends to be Lancaster-centric. 

Amish Society was the first book I ever read on the Amish and I am continually re-reading bits and pieces.

I thought I'd share a few  with you, like this bit on the kiddos:

'The relationship between authority and responsibility is learned very early.  Although the younger chldren must obey the older ones, the older children may not make arbitrary demands on the younger.  The four-year-old is expected to hand over his toy to a younger child if he cries for it, but in the absence of the parents the younger one must obey the older.'


photo:  Bill Coleman Amish photography

As an older brother, I must admit I've been guilty of 'arbirtrary demands' inflicted on little (not-so-little-anymore) Alex while we were growing up.

I find it fascinating that the Amish inculcate this hierarchy of obedience to elder siblings, especially when the 'elder sibling' may be a mere five or six-- and with an even younger sibling hoisted onto one hip while mom works on dinner.

Bonus:  With the little ones left in charge, do the Amish really care about their children's safety?  Well, of course.   Though it might not always seem that way...


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I read the "Riddle of Amish Culture" to try and learn more about the Amish - and I came away with more answers than questions. Very dissappointing to me.

Kraybill tends to look at things from a Socieological point of view - which is okay I suppose but I wanted to find some theological meat about the Amish and what makes them tick from a religous stand-point.

I recently found a book by a guy named Daniel E. Mast written back in the early 1900s. It is a book of Mast's (who is Amish) collected writings entitled "Salvation Full and Free." Its tough to find as I had to pull it off the shelf in an Amish store here - and I was fortunate to find one in English.

Great book to really get into the nuts and bolts of Amish theology - why they do things the way they do and why they believe what they believe about a whole range of topics.

Suppose I should rephrase my first sentence in that last post here. I meant to say "I came away with more questions than answers." Must be my dislexia kicking in...

Safety is important, but there are some things even more important. They can't be learned without there being risks, too.

The Amish theology might have something to do with their priorities.

(I say this as a person who as a 12-year old nearly burned the house down in an attempt to care for my baby sister when I was put in charge of babysitting for her.)

That books sounds very interesting, Dave. Would you mind sharing which bookshop you got this in? I'll be back on the road this spring and would like to add an Amish bookshop on my list of things to do.

That book sounds very interesting! Too bad we don't have it around this area!

Matthew - I'll get you the name and address next time I drive by there. Check back here in about a week.

Guys, I need an Amish bookshop here in Poland. I am killing both my suitcases and my back lugging my library back and forth betwen continents :)

I was wondering how you found your job amongst the Amish commmunity? Do you have any resources to where I can find employment in other Amish communities as well? Thank you.

Hi Nevah, I don't know that I have any formal resources that I can offer you--perhaps the Sugarcreek Budget may have some ads, or maybe the best way would be to look at posted ads in dry goods stores and the like in Amish areas. It would probably depend on what you would like to do. I have been in direct sales, so I basically just approached thousands of Amish people that I'd never met before, selling a Bible set called Family Bible Library along with some other children's books. I absolutely love it, but I don't know if that is what you'd be looking for?

Thank you for the info.

Matthew - sorry I haven't responded sooner. I'd be curious to know if you checked back here - please reply if so.

I drove by the book store today. It is on Leahcock road. If you are going west on 340 you turn left on Leahcock and go down about 5 miles or so - it is on the left. The turn is right by the winery (if you are familiar with the area) a couple of miles west of Intercourse.

Again - sorry I took so long to respond. I forgot about this.

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